The Revitalized Agreement is the only option for ending the conflict [fr]
Statement by Ms Anne Guegen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 8 March 2019
I would like to start by thanking Special Representative of the Secretary-General David Shearer for his briefing, which is both encouraging and very farsighted. I am also very pleased that we were able to hear Ms. Angelina Jial, whose testimony from the field and exceptional personal commitment are extremely valuable. Her briefing in particular was very relevant today, on International Women’s Day.
I also took note with interest of the historical explanations provided by the Permanent Representative of Russia on the subject of 8 March and his encouraging comments on the efforts made by Russia in the area of the empowerment of women and the promotion of their rights. This is also an important national cause in France.
The statements made by my colleagues were most enlightening. My own will be limited and focused on four priorities.
First, we should not lose the historic opportunity offered by the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan. As the Special Representative of the Secretary-General made clear, South Sudan has experienced significant developments since the signing of the Agreement. The fighting has decreased, the ceasefire is generally being respected, mutual trust among the parties is increasing and their commitment is stronger than in 2015, and the opposition is starting to return to Juba.
The Revitalized Agreement now represents the only option for ending the conflict. France has welcomed it since its signing and we continue to fully support it. However, as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General eloquently said, much remains to be done and the implementation of the Agreement’s pre-transitional phase is lagging behind. But this historic opportunity must not be missed. The more the parties delay in addressing difficult issues, the more likely it is that the process will run out of steam, especially as the combatants on the ground become impatient.
There are three elements essential to speeding up these efforts. First, the parties must focus on core issues in the negotiations, particularly security arrangements and the drawing of internal borders. Secondly, it is also crucial to respect the quotas for women outlined in the Agreement and to enable them to participate actively and meaningfully in the peace process, at every level and on every issue. We know that peace processes that involve women are stronger, as the representative of the United Kingdom pointed out just now. The Council must also assess their success against that criterion. Thirdly, the regional efforts aimed at convincing the parties to make concessions must continue. The efforts of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) remain crucial. The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has a role to play in supporting those efforts, including, as Mr. Shearer suggested, by providing expertise and advice and working in synergy with and in support of IGAD’s efforts.
The second priority that I would like to underscore is that the current level of violence, including sexual violence, is unacceptable, and we must do everything we can to end it. Despite the drop in the number of conflict-related clashes, the intercommunal and sexual violence has not diminished. In that regard, I want to remind the Council that the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan mandated by the Human Rights Council indicated in a very recent report (A/HRC/40/69) that the nature and level of that violence could constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. We call for an end to all forms of violence and for those responsible to be brought to justice. The Special Representative spoke about mobile courts, which we believe are very useful, and we encourage him to continue to support this kind of project. The too-long-awaited Hybrid Court for South Sudan should be established as soon as possible with the support of the African Union. We believe, lastly, that the Security Council should make systematic use of sanctions to punish and deter those who perpetrate sexual violence, especially as it is now an autonomous criterion for the imposition of sanctions and an effective deterrent.
Thirdly, we must intensify our efforts to meet the people’s humanitarian needs as food security continues to deteriorate. We must do everything possible to meet the growing humanitarian needs and ensure safe and unhindered humanitarian access throughout the country. The reduction in the number of criminal incidents is an encouraging development. We must continue to stress the obligation to protect humanitarian personnel and to reiterate that there is no alternative to combating impunity.
Lastly, we should facilitate the return of displaced persons, while taking all the necessary precautions. As the Special Representative indicated, more and more displaced people want to return home and the numbers in the protection-of-civilians sites are beginning to decline. That is obviously an encouraging development, and we support his proposal to encourage UNMISS to facilitate the return of the internally displaced, but with precautions. We must ensure that people’s returns are safe, well-informed, voluntary and dignified, and that humanitarian actors and the displaced people themselves are also closely involved in the process. In that spirit, France encourages UNMISS to continue to organize visits for displaced persons to their areas of origin to enable them to decide in full understanding whether it is safe for them to return.